L’Artisan Bois Farine reconsidered ~ fragrance review

L'Artisan Bois Farine fragrance

Earlier this fall, on the advice of a friend, I gave L'Artisan Timbuktu another try. I did not care for the fragrance when it was first released, but was considerably more taken with it the second time around. At the time I mentioned that I would buy it in a flash in a 15 ml bottle, and lo and behold, along comes the new L'Artisan coffret set with 15 ml bottles of Timbuktu and Ambre Extreme. It was no hard thing to find a taker for the Ambre, so there went my resolution to cease buying perfume for the rest of 2005. Ah well!

What does that have to do with Bois Farine? Well, very little, except that Bois Farine was the first in the travel-inspired series of fragrances that included Timbuktu, and as with the Timbuktu, I did not much care for it when it was first released. I've been meaning to revisit it since it has come up in the comments several times as of late, and Victoria reviewed it recently on Bois de Jasmin.

Bois Farine was launched in 2003. It was created by perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, and according to L'Artisan...

...is the product of his encounter with a magic tree in the Reunion Islands.

Here, in a forest known as the coloured wood forest, surrounded by evocatively named trees, red wood, yellow wood, iron wood and milk wood, he unexpectedly discovered the fragrant white tree - a rare and nowadays protected species, reputed to have magical powers. This tree is specific to Reunion Island and its red flower smells like flour.

The tree was Ruizia Cordata, and other fragrance notes include fennel seed, iris, benzoin, sandalwood, cedar, gaiac wood.

The top notes of Bois Farine are frequently compared to peanut butter, and there is a definite nutty undertone mingling with the fennel seed and the floury notes. The iris is pronounced in the dry down, as is the cedar, but I don't notice them as distinct aromas; the overall effect is of uncooked pastry dough sprinkled with sugar and toasted almond slivers. Plus lots and lots of wood. The sandalwood and gaiac wood intensify as it warms on the skin, eventually mellowing the sharpness of the cedar and tempering the sweet foody notes.

I distinctly remember being put off by the heavy cedar when I first tried Bois Farine — my testing notes say "pencil shavings" — but as these things go, 400 fragrances later, pencil shavings have come to smell awfully good to me and the cedar does not seem at all overdone. Bois Farine is a rather odd fragrance, but also simply gorgeous, and another must-have.

So, L'Artisan, do release Bois Farine in a 15 ml and I promise to buy it immediately. And while we're on the subject, I would love to see another release in this "travels of the perfumer" series. It is much more interesting to me than the new limited harvest scent, Fleur d'Oranger, which is quite lovely but also quite outside of my price range.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Bois Farine is an Eau de Toilette. For buying information, see the listing for L'Artisan under Perfume Houses.

Note: the picture shows a coffret set with a 50 ml bottle of fragrance and a booklet of watercolors by Jean Claude Ellena.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Since I go on and off Bois Farine, I join you in your appeal to L'Artisan for a 15ml bottle. If they had those, I might have had theo whole range by now, or almost the whole range.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great review R! I liked it very much at first. I love

    italian almond cookies and that it what it reminds me of. As a Rome and Florence fanatic – this used to transport me to the cheerful cafes there. However, one day something predictable happened and I got bored. It is now one of my several room sprays. (Running away……………………)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would love to isolate which note is giving off that peanut effect!

  4. Anonymous says:

    M, Same here. Wish I had bought them all before they discontinued the travel sizes!

  5. Anonymous says:

    LOL!!! Here I am using L'Artisan room sprays as perfumes, and you are using the perfumes as room sprays ;-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    V, because you hate it or because you love it?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bois Farine makes me ill, but I really want to know where you got the coffret with the 15ml Timbuktu and Ambre Extreme in it – is it still available, and where?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I knew that you might come around! :) I love this fragrance, but like you, I really wish for a 15ml bottle. In fact, I would like most perfumes to come in 15ml bottles.

  9. Anonymous says:

    T, lusciouscargo has it, and you can get free shipping with code NOWSMELLTHISRULES. Haven't seen it at any of the other etailers yet, but didn't do a massive search.

  10. Anonymous says:

    V, I suppose eventually I will come around to everything, and then I may as well give up & find a new hobby, LOL!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can't say I get peanut butter, but this is certainly a creamy/nutty scent on me, like some strange liqueur that doesn't actually exist. It's not particularly woody on me at all, which makes me feel a little like I have weird skin, but I do sense it. On me there's hardly any cedar, let alone heavy cedar… But it is floral, and I guess it's iris-y, but my impressions are all of dreamy nuttiness. I would love to do a side by side comparison of wrists someday with us wearing it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I can't get past the peanut butter accord. Peanut butter is one of my favorite flavors in the whole world, but I draw the line at smelling of it.

    Adding my request to L'Artisan to release Fleur d'Oranger in a 15 ml size at a reasonable price!

  13. Anonymous says:

    K, “Some strange liqueur that doesn't actually exist” is a great description. I don't think of BF as floral at all, although I suppose it has flowers in it. It is really funny how differently we all experience scents…

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is funny that everyone associates it so strongly with peanut butter. It smells very nutty to me but peanut butter is not really the first thing that pops into my mind. Oh well…it is always good to find another fragrance you don't need.

    I would even be happy with a 50 ml of the Fleur d'Oranger…but 100 ml is $250 is too dear for me.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I'm always amazed by the peanut butter note that people get. If I kind of squirm a bit, I can just about imagine nut butter, but what I really get is bread baking in a sunlit carpenter's workshop, and a drift of almond essence. If I really let myself go, I can see the carpenter…. This is my absolute have-to-have scent; I sniff it every day even if I don't wear it. My (full-size!) bottle is over half finished, and I'm worried.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It's uncanny the fragrances you've chosen to review lately…generally, I've worn them the day before your review comes out! Talk about synchronicity!

    And I got big thumbs up on the Bois Farine yesterday from folks who usually don't say anything.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It's at Barney's as well; I got it there.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh, because I don't like the peanut smell. Remember I said I can smell it in the opening of Gaultier2 and Drole De Rose. I'm betting it's the same ingredient. In a smaller quantity of course.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thanks J!

  20. Anonymous says:

    N, It smells closer to almonds than peanuts to me too!

    Hate the sight of a half-empty bottle — makes me want to start rationing ;-)

  21. Anonymous says:

    M, Well then tell me what you're wearing today so I'll know what to review tomorrow ;-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Oh yeah — that brain cell (I have very few left) was long since written over. Just went and put them both on. I smell something very candy-sweet in the start of DdR & the Gaultier. It doesn't last long in the DdR though. It smells like synthetic fruit flavoring to me, and so I see the bubblegum reference, but I just don't get anything nutty in either. Your nose must be more finely-tuned than mine!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I loved those 15 ml bottles! What happened to them? I bought three from beautycafe.com several years ago: premier figuier, vanilia and tea for two. Like a fool, I gave tea for two away.

    Now I wish I had kept it or could replace it with the same size bottle. :(:(


  24. Anonymous says:

    Came to me this morning, V: could it be heliotrope? It is more often described as almond than peanut, but does have a definite nutty undertone with the creamy vanilla.

  25. Anonymous says:

    R, it is a shame they stopped making that size except for in the coffrets. I wish I had bought more while they were still available too.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It made me ill too and I have no intention of ever smelling it again, if I can avoid it.

    I have yet to find *one* L'Artisan that I find pleasant, let alone like. :-(

  27. Anonymous says:

    J, It is one of my favorite lines!

    Have you tried the 3 new Guerlains — Rose Barbare, Cuir Beluga, Angeliques? Wondering what you thought of them since everyone is saying they are derivative of the SL line.

  28. Blimunda says:

    Ah – just stepped out of a hot, steamy bath and applied a few dabs from my Bois Farine sampler. It is perrrrrrfect for such a moment. Yes, I will have to buy more of this stuff. Love it, love it, love it. It fits my skin chemistry like a glove.

    • Robin says:

      Isn’t that great stuff??

      • Blimunda says:

        I tell you Robin, I just stopped myself from buying 8mls from the TPC……….

        • Robin says:

          I would be looking for one of those cute little 15 ml bottles. But trying to remember if they ever did one in Bois Farine…

  29. bluegardenia says:

    at first i thought this was warm and salty, like caramel corn, or something i couldn’t quite put my finger on. a little syrupy, a lot almondy and nutty, foodlike but transparent, milky… i thought, ‘what a beautiful home scent this would be.’
    then i read the review and robin’s mentioning peanut butter, and now that’s all i can smell. it’s beautifully done, but i don’t want to smell like this nor do i want my home to anymore! peanut butter is not chic. next!!!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, too bad! I love Bois Farine.

  30. brazile says:

    I was in the Covent Garden L’Artisan this afternoon and they were having a very rare sale (the result of the Cale Street store closing – there isn’t room for the excess stock). I didn’t think I really liked Bois Farine when I first smelled it, but after trying others and then coming back to my liberally-sprayed arm, I was shocked at how delicious it was. Since it was also 50% off, I bought the bottle. L’Artisan fans in London – get in there!

  31. talentedjaguars says:

    Robin, reading your reviews has helped me tremendously in exploring “grown up” fragrances.

    I would like to stand up in support of my beloved Bois Farine. It’s definitely a bold choice (since it does sometimes overwhelm with its doughy nuttyness.) Its warmth and depth envelope me each time I reach for it. I don’t know that I recommend it for daily wear, but kept around for certain occasions (and frankly, don’t we all “visit” our fragrances every once in a while just to sniff and say hi?) it’s well worth it.

    • Blimunda says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more – I bought it today! Am wearing it now, and I absolutely love it and am glad that I own it.

  32. trilliongrams says:

    I was so so excited to try this scent as I’ve heard interesting things about it.

    Imagine my extreme disappointment when the ONLY thing I smelled from the bottle and on my skin is… baby powder. That’s all it smells like.

    I’d even take peanut butte or pencil shavings over baby powder.

    I’ll smell it again tomorrow to see if my nose is off.

  33. marios.georgiou says:

    Hi Robin, found this in a good price on line and worndering if its worth a purchase….i like masculine perfumes and i’m between this and fou d’absinthe…Traversee du Bosphore is not my taste that much but i will revisit it….and i loved dzing! from the first smell. what do you say about bois farine and fou d’absinthe?

    • Robin says:

      Fou d’Absinthe is more conventionally masculine. Bois Farine is just a bit odd…not sure it has a gender.

  34. marios.georgiou says:

    Almost all L’artisan are suffering from longevity and sillage issues. this is an EDP. same problem with it?

    • Robin says:

      I’m sorry but I honestly don’t remember.

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